US Department of State Reviews

Updated April 19, 2015
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  1. Helpful (1)

    Good for Idealists

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Department of State

    Pros

    Worldwide reach and sense of purpose

    Cons

    Bureaucratic; people who have stayed too long are challenging to work with.

    Advice to Management

    None

  2. Large bureaucracy with lack of communication between different sectors.

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Extremely prestigious and doing great work around the world. Offers lots of flexibility

    Cons

    Building is in no man's land -

    Advice to Management

    Communicate with your staff. Share what goes on in the many many meetings that you attend.

  3. Helpful (4)

    A safe have for foreign policy wonks....

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    If you love international affairs, and you love writing, you will love State. Top notch talent and unparalleled opportunities to contribute to policy making.

    Cons

    Human resources processes can be daunting and State can be quite formal for newbies, but you can acclimate quickly to the culture by being observant and asking a ton of questions.

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  5. Hit or Miss Internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State

    Recommends
    Recommends

    Pros

    Exciting work, reasonable hours, great foreign policy exposure.

    Cons

    Most interns are unpaid.
    The major con is that while interns know their bureau/department placement before accepting the position, they often don't know which specific office they will be placed in. Especially in some of the larger bureaus, this can be extremely frustrating, as internship experiences vary widely even within bureaus depending on which specific office the intern is assigned to.

  6. Helpful (2)

    Slow moving but easy going.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Security Specialist
    Current Employee - Security Specialist

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    It's definitely a government job. Decent compensation package.

    Cons

    Not a good place for a go getter.

    Advice to Management

    Get your FS people out of Washington.

  7. Helpful (4)

    Amazing opportunity, but the bureaucracy is stiff

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The State Department is the only place I've ever worked that regularly sent me to foreign countries to represent the United States. I felt like I was on the "No Apparent Athletic Talent" Olympic Team. Honestly, it is hard to describe the thrill of landing in Beijing or Abu Dhabi or Yerevan, knowing that I had a job to do on behalf of the U.S. If you are driven by that spirit of public service, you will love the State Department.

    Cons

    The office culture was straight out of office space. Lots of paperwork. Lots of bureaucracy. About a fifth of people seemed to have no real purpose except to process paper (which, frequently, they generated for themselves) and block the rest of the Department from operating more quickly. Careerists and sharp elbows are omnipresent.

    Advice to Management

    More 360 reviews and more promotion opportunities (even small ones) would boost morale

  8. Awesome place to work at

    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Made lifelong friends and great support network. Extremely friendly and encouraging folks here.

    Cons

    No pay since I was an unpaid intern.

    Advice to Management

    Pay interns.

  9. Great place to intern.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I was treated as a part of the team and got a lot of responsibility early on.
    Minimal administrative work compared to other internships.

    Cons

    Unpaid.
    Won't lead to a job even if they like you due to federal hiring processes.

  10. Helpful (1)

    Mostly positive.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Travel, meeting new and interesting people. Good middle management and camaraderie. Challenging work with impact on policy makers. Be on the forefront of history.

    Cons

    Poor senior management apt to be cliquish and unable to hold other senior managers accountable in meaningful ways. Cut-throat management practices that reward loyalty over all.

    Advice to Management

    A thought from Stephen M.R. Covey:

    How to destroy credibility & trust in an organization:

    The hardest of all to deal with are those who have high results but are poor in living the values. They achieve the end that everybody wants, but they do it a way that blatantly defies organizational values. According to GE, people in this category need to learn to operate within the company’s values—or be let go, despite their results. To keep them on as they are is not only unsustainable, it is damaging to the organization and destroys credibility and trust.

  11. Bureaucracy... inaction

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Consular Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Consular Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (more than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Working for the US Department of State brings you close to interesting international work, as a part of the most powerful government on the planet. As a government bureaucrat (i.e. NOT a contractor) you will earn the salary and benefits that most only dream of. A typical first year employee will receive approximately $100,000 in salary, pension, perks, benefits and other goodies.

    Cons

    In return for the pros, you will work in a organization where half of the people walking the halls wish they were the Secretary of State, while the other half wish they were retied. This dynamic leads to a corrosive office culture, which is not aided by an antiquated hierarchy that emphasizes individual work and deemphasizes teamwork. Most people are unhappy working here, however, the average time between first applying and entry on duty is six years, thus with the sunk-cost fallacy at work, they feel unable to leave for fear of having wasted those years.

    Advice to Management

    Secretary Kerry, keep doing what you are doing, you want no part of this. The last Secretary of State to invest any time in the organization was Colin Powell, and things didn't turn out too well for him.

    American People, how much do you know about the work of the State Department? Is it really work 70,000 employees and $52 billion a year?

    Obama Administration, when was the last time you actually used the State Department?

    OPM, regulation limits freedom, make it easier to join and easier to leave, then you might hire a team work having. You've got a deadwood problem and you know it.

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